You might have noticed that many Canadian marijuana stocks have enjoyed nice gains over the past couple of weeks. A huge $4 billion investment by Fortune 500 alcoholic beverage maker Constellation Brands in Canopy Growth produced sympathy moves in several of Canopy's peers. Aphria (NASDAQOTH:APHQF) and Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) were two winners by association.
But Tilray has definitely seen greater momentum than Aphria. Is it the better stock between these two marijuana growers? Or could Aphria be ready to soar past its rival? Here's how Aphria and Tilray stack up against each other.
The case for Aphria
Tremendous growth prospects. If you're looking for a reason to buy Aphria, that's it. Sure, the stock is valued astronomically right now. But if Aphria can take advantage of its opportunities, its shares could soar as revenue and earnings increase dramatically.
Step one for Aphria is to capture a sizable market share when Canada's recreational marijuana market opens in October. The company has made significant strides in getting ready to do just that. Perhaps most important, Aphria is scrambling to boost its production capacity. In its fiscal 2018 Q4 results, the company stated that its expansion efforts are on schedule. Aphria expects to increase its annual capacity from 35,000 kilograms to 255,000 kilograms by next year.
The marijuana grower has also signed supply agreements for the recreational cannabis market with seven provinces and territories, including the most recent deal with Ontario. Aphria has partnered with Southern Glazer's, a leading liquor distributor, to distribute its retail cannabis products.
Step two to achieve success is to profit from the expansion of the global medical marijuana market. Aphria so far has only had low sales in countries outside of Canada. However, Aphria CEO Vic Neufeld stated that he's "very, very confident" about his company's opportunity in the lucrative German market. The company also hopes to see growth from other medical marijuana markets in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malta, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay.
Step three for Aphria is to branch out beyond traditional cannabis products into new categories, including cannabis-infused beverages. The company recently announced a joint venture with Perennial, a subsidiary of DATA Communications Management, to develop cannabis-infused products and brands for the Canadian market. Cannabis-infused beverages and edibles won't be legal later this year but regulations for the products should be finalized sometime in 2019.
The case for Tilray
Tilray claims the same opportunities that Aphria does. What's different is how the two companies are positioned for those opportunities.
Let's first look at production capacity. Tilray should have 912,000 square feet of growing space by the end of this year. That will put Tilray behind Aphria, which will have over 1 million square feet of growing space from its Aphria One facility when it's complete in early 2019. Aphria also has even greater capacity coming with its Aphria Diamond facility.
Tilray is also a little behind Aphria in the number of supply agreements for recreational marijuana announced with provinces and territories. The company has so far signed deals with six provinces and territories: British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, Ontario, the Northwest Territories, and Yukon.
However, Tilray could have an advantage in international medical cannabis markets thanks to its Portugal facility. In 2016, the company became the first Canadian marijuana producer to export cannabis to Europe. Tilray currently exports medical marijuana to nine countries, most importantly including Germany. More countries could be added to the list in the near future.
So far, Tilray hasn't announced any deals related to developing and marketing cannabis-infused beverages. I think, though, that both Tilray and Aphria could be prime partnership candidates for major alcoholic beverage companies hoping to keep up with Constellation Brands.
The better marijuana stock
Investors appear to be more enamored with Tilray than they are with Aphria. I suspect that Tilray's listing on the Nasdaq stock exchange is a major reason why this is the case. The company is one of only three Canadian marijuana stocks to be listed on U.S. stock exchanges. Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy recently told Bloomberg that several top institutional investors participated in the company's initial public offering (IPO) in July.
But the numbers point to Aphria as the better marijuana stock, in my view. After its huge gains, Tilray's market cap stands at $3.6 billion. Aphria's market cap is a much lower $2 billion. You'd get a lot more bang for your buck in terms of capacity with Aphria than you would with Tilray.
If Tilray gets a deal with a big beverage company and Aphria doesn't, I could change my tune quickly. For now, though, I think Aphria gets the nod as the better pick. But both of these stocks could be in store for rough times if the Canadian recreational marijuana market or global marijuana markets don't ramp up as quickly as expected. Buying Aphria or Tilray isn't for the faint of heart.